Location: Gulbarga, Karnataka
Built In: 1347
Built By: Raja Gulchand and Al-ud-din Bahmani
Dynasty: Bahmani dynasty
Other names: ‘Gulbarga Qila’
The Gulbarga Fort is a massive structure built by Raja Gulchand and then re-modified by Al-ud-din-Bahmani in the year 1347. Situated in the Gulbarga district of North Karnataka, the fort is one of the premium representations of Persian and Islamic architecture in the country. Some of the most popular Islamic monuments located within the fort are Jami Masjid and the Tomb of Khwaja Bande Nawaz to name a few. As the fort is well-connected to most parts of the state, it is being swanked by a large number of visitors every year. The fort has some amazing features, although many parts of the stronghold are now slowly becoming dilapidated. Made from a mixture of granite and lime mortar, this fortress was made on raised land with the Bhīma and Krishna River flowing nearby, which provided the fort with an abundant source of water supply and irrigation channels during the Bahmani Dynasty.
Gulbarga Fort, Gulbarga District
During the early parts of the 6th Century, the Rashtrakutas ruled over the Gulbarga region. For another two centuries after the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas ruled without any opposition from other kingdoms. Towards the end of the 12th century, the Yadavas and the Hoysalas took over the Gulbarga and Raichur districts in Karnataka. Towards the end of their reigns, the south-western region of India was slowly being taken over by Muhammad bin Tughluq, who went on to occupy parts of Karnataka in the early 14th century, including Gulbarga. However there was an uprising against bin Tughluq and as a result the Bahmani Sultanate was established in the year 1346 and Gulbarga became its capital. At the time, Gulbarga was known as ‘Ahsenabad’. The fort was occupied and was officially used as the royal headquarters. After the end of the Bahmani rule Gulbarga was ultimately separated into five states. Post-independence Gulbarga and the Gulbarga Fort came under the control of Mysore state, and then, Karnataka.
Home to some of the largest and the most prominent edifices in the country, the Gulbarga fort is a grandiose example of art and affluence. During the Bahmani rule, the Gulbarga fort was done in Persian, Iranian architectural styles which are still visible in many parts of the fort today. With Persian style grounds, patios, mosques, stables the fort was a spectator to numerous battles and it still managed to retain large chunks of its architectural dignity.
Two of the most famous buildings within the fort were the Jami Masjid and the Tomb of Khwaja Bande Nawaz. The masjid itself, was one of the first mosques to be built in south India, and was roofed with domes, and intricate, Islamic-influenced wall-work. With five large domes, this mosque stood as the epitome of sanctity. The tomb of the sufi saint is surrounded by walls with Islamic motifs, paintings with Turkish influences, which was typical of Bahmani architecture. Along with the tombs and the Jami Masjid, the fort also contains ammunition junkyards, temples and carriages. The Gulbarga Fort was fortified with 15 towers, 30 feet moats, and 26 guns that protected it from looming threat.
Major Battles And Events
- The Fort was seized by the Bahmani’s from the Orangal Kakatiya descendant, Raja Gulchand who originally built the Gulbarga Fort. This led to a long battle, with the Bahmanis gaining control over the region and overthrowing Raja Gulchand and his kingdom.
- Once the Bahmanis had established the fort as the royal headquarters, Al-ud-din-Bahmani reconstructed and refurbished the entire fort in Persian style and important edifices such as mosques, chambers and towers were added.
- The fort witnessed many marauders and invaders who tried to breach the fort wall in the attempt to seize control, but the Bahmanis, with all their might fought back valiantly, holding the fort strong and tall.
- The most prominent of all battles was the one with the Vijayanagara King, Krishnadevaraya, who led an army against the fort and in an attempt to bring down the fort, bombarded and destroyed the Bahmani kingdom, bringing it down to rubble.
- Adil Shah was said to have reconstructed the fort and the Bahmani’s were said to have ruled the district once more.
The fort is currently maintained by the Government of Karnataka. Being one of the oldest tourist attractions in Karnataka, the fort is now maintained as a historical monument, governed from Bangalore and being restored by the ASI. There are many tour guides available on the sight who will help tourists with all the information related to the Gulbarga Fort. The government is keeping strict vigilance for anyone who tries to disrupt the sanctity of the fort. Many visitors and Pilgrims visit the fort once a year for the festivities of ‘Urs’ held within the premises.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit the fort would be during the period between October and March, which is the post-monsoon season and when the weather is relatively cool in the state. The fort is open to public from 9 am to 5.30 pm and at times authorities also allow visitors at night to witness an illuminated Gulbarga Fortress. The fortification is open to the public all 365 days in a year.
How To Reach
- Gulbarga is well connected to most parts of the state and the country and can be accessed by tourists from Bijapur, Bidar, and Bangalore.
- Many international and domestic flights are available for Bangalore International Airport and one can take a private cab or car and drive to Gulbarga from the city.
- The Gulbarga railway station is also well connected to all parts of Karnataka and can also be accessed from Bangalore, for those coming from other parts of the country or from abroad.
- The nearest airports to Gulbarga are the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Bangalore International Airport and Sholapur Airport.
Around The Fort
Some of the palaces around Gulbarga, the Jain Temples, the Jaladurga Falls, and the historic town of Bidar are great tourist spots around the Gulbarga Fort. The Narayanpur Dam is also situated 120 kilometers from the Gulbarga region that provides a breathtaking view of the northern Karnataka region.
From its Kakatiya rulers of Warangal to the Bahmani rulers, the Gulbarga Fort has been under the possession of different dynasties. The ASI along with the support of the government is trying to restore this historical structure which has been one of the symbols of splendor and magnificence.